Bach’s Deathday

July 28, 2012

It may appear that this site has suddenly become organ-centered, but J.S. Bach died 262 years ago today, so surely his last composition (which was appended to the unfinished Art of Fugue) can be allowed today. In it, after his multitude of inventive experiments in setting chorale tunes, he reverted to the most conservative imitative Pachelbel-style type of prelude, in which each phrase is preceded by fore-imitation; and, played by the more recently lamented Gustav Leonhardt, it is surely fitting for our observance of Bach’s death, as it was for the master at that last hour: “Vor deinen Thron tret ich hermit” (Before your throne I now appear):

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The only known portrait of Dietrich Buxtehude

On Sunday, I’m going to play it on the organ, with a rather more dramatic effect. But don’t you think this clean counterpoint works well as I play it here at home?

Dietrich Buxtehude (c. 1637–1707) Canzona in G (BuxWV 170)

Pedal Exercise, Anyone?

July 26, 2012

Other Kinds of Worlds

July 25, 2012

… the world one habitually lives in is merely a creation of this conventional, closely conditioned being which one is, and that there are quite other kinds of worlds outside. It’s a very salutary thing to realize that the rather dull universe in which most of us spend most of our time is not the only universe there is.

I recommend this whole interview with Aldous Huxley from, oh, many years ago.


Check out the things he is willing (and, credibly, capable) to do.

And, lest you think he’s kidding, check out his organ improvisation (though the Elgar at the end is not, of course, an improvisation):

UPDATE: As I posted to the Piporg-L list:

All of this video is fine, but especially watching this guy as he manages the beginning of the Elgar reminds me how many skillful reflexes a decent organist acquires. My own career has made me sometimes think of myself as other musical things more than “organist,” but being one is truly at the basis of who I am musically.

This consciousness popped out unexpectedly during a lesson last week when I was demonstrating something to a pupil. She asked “How did you know to do that?”

“Because I’m an organist and I’m smart” came out unthinkingly. But there’s something to it.

Death by Trombone

July 12, 2012

Hat-tip to Richard Brice

Hat-tip to Andrew Sullivan